The announcement last week that Ferrari has secured the services of Laurent Mekies, the FIA’s Deputy Race Director, raised eyebrows among the teams who are already concerned about the transfer of a high-ranking FIA official to Renault late last season.
Mekies took over the position, alongside long-time Race Director Charlie Whiting, from Herbie Blash, and underwent considerable training to enable him to handle the position. The concern among the other teams is that Mekies may have been party to sensitive information regarding the design of the 2018 cars.
Problems for Australia
While Mekies has, quite rightly, been stood down from his FIA duties with immediate effect, the problem the FIA is left with is finding a Deputy Director for the opening race in Melbourne, Australia, which takes place this coming weekend.
The role is a very important one and involves many vital routines and decisions, and while Blash would have been the obvious short-term replacement, he is otherwise engaged this weekend.
It is understood that there are a number of candidates under discussion, with no decision yet made.
One curious factor about the news is that role Mekies will fill at Ferrari is as-yet unspecified; all that is known is that he will join in a technical role, and report to Mattia Binotto, the team’s Technical Director. Mekies will take up his role in September following a period of ‘gardening leave’.
FIA Technical Chief Marcin Budkowski was lured to a new position with Renault last October, and the outcry among the rival teams led to his arrival at the team being delayed until this April.
At the time, Red Bull’s Christian Horner was one of many team principals who expressed concern, stating that Budkowski – as will be the case with Mekies – had been party to ‘intimate details of next year’s cars’.
Nevertheless, Ferrari is within its rights to employ Mekies, who will surely be a valuable asset once his tenure begins.